Seattle educators vote to strike
Strike will start Sept. 9 unless there is a tentative agreement before then
By an unprecedented thunderous unanimous vote, Seattle educators have voted to strike beginning the first day of school, Sept. 9, if the Seattle School Board fails to negotiate a tentative contract agreement before then.
“The Seattle School Board has rejected most of our proposals around competitive pay, reasonable testing, guaranteed recess, student equity and workloads,” said Phyllis Campano, a special education teacher who serves as Seattle Education Association vice president and bargaining chair. “Through their inaction, their lack of serious proposals and their refusal to publicly explain their positions, Seattle School Board members have shown they neither respect nor value us as professional educators.”
SEA President Jonathan Knapp said negotiators from the SEA and the Seattle School District are meeting with state mediators Friday morning.
“Seattle teachers and support staff are unified and resolute in working for a fair contract,” he said. “And we’re willing to do what it takes to get one. The Seattle School Board must get down to work and move on these crucial issue so our students can start school on time.”
Although negotiations began in May, and educators set an Aug. 24 deadline for a contract settlement, major unresolved issues haven’t changed:
- Professional pay: We need to attract and keep caring, qualified educators in Seattle, which is one of the most expensive cities in the United States. We’ve gone six years with no state COLA and five years with no state increase in funding for educator health care.
- Guaranteed student recess: Recess time varies wildly across the district, and we believe all students benefit from a guaranteed amount of time for play and exercise.
- Fair teacher and staff evaluations: Educators should be evaluated fairly and consistently, and the focus should be on providing the support all educators need to be successful.
- Reasonable testing: Too much standardized testing is stealing time away from classroom learning.
- ESA workload relief: Educational staff associates provide students with crucial services and support, but their current workloads mean many students aren’t getting the help they need.
- Office professional workload relief: Office professionals do crucial work and play many roles – and they should be compensated for the extra work they do.
- Student equity around discipline and the opportunity gap: We need to focus on equity issues across Seattle, not just in six schools.
- The administration’s proposal to make teachers work more for free: It is unrealistic to expect teachers to work more hours without additional pay, and the district administration has been unable to explain how their proposal would help students.
SEA represents about 5,000 teachers, instructional assistants, paraprofessionals, nurses, counselors, substitute teachers and office professionals who educate 52,000 students in the Seattle School District.